I’m Still Not Used to Having Seasons

It’s interesting to feel how decisively Summer turns into Fall in Seattle. I grew up in the Bay Area in California, which really only has two seasons: Summer and Fall, but there’s not a ton of definition between them. You just eventually notice that Starbucks is carrying pumpkin spice lattes and decide that, even though it’s still uncomfortably warm out, you’re gonna wear a scarf, dammit. (And then stubbornly wear it all day while your neck itches and sweats. At least it’s cute.)

In Seattle, I just step outside one day and it feels like Autumn all of a sudden. It wavers back and forth a few times, but after that the Summer is pretty solidly over. Even the bright and sunny days that follow feel muted. The sunshine gets a little more golden, like it’s permanently set in late afternoon mode, and the flowers look like they’re getting ready for bed even though they’re still blooming bravely away. There are days like this in California, to be sure, but they’re usually heavily interspersed with heat that feels like it’s been personally sent to punish you for getting out of your air-conditioned car.

I can definitely get on board with this kind of beautiful, crisp Autumn, although I’m still not convinced about the whole snow and ice in Winter thing. I think that I’d still choose light sweaters and sushi at Christmas over getting snowed into the house and watching the neighbor kids sledding down the street with their big old dog, intriguingly novel as that very Hallmark experience was.

Spring is on probation. It’s awfully damp and the days are too short, but it makes the salamanders happy. Gotta think of the salamanders.

Blackberry vines running through a bush that’s turning bright red
Pink fuchsia flowers. They always look like ballerinas to me. If you pluck one and pinch off the stem, you can stick it through the middle bit of the flower to make a tiny little doll.
A hot pink dahlia flower that’s been nibbled at a little bit by slugs. Still pretty, though.
An unopened sunflower with little earwig tenants

A Walk in the Washington Park Arboretum

This is definitely my new favorite place to walk with the dogs. It’s so peaceful, and there are so many different paths to take.

Beautifully arranged rocks among the greenery
Mossy branches and emerald green leaves
A cool plant with broad leaves next to a pond covered in floating duckweed
A mossy tree trunk
A well disguised salamander larva lurking in the mud at the bottom of one of the ponds
Another baby salamander hanging out under the duckweed
One of the beautiful calm pools around the arboretum. I love that they don’t keep fish in any of them, which means that amphibians can use them safely for breeding.
A pretty pink flower in the undergrowth
Cute little brown mushrooms on a mossy log

A Walk in the Woods

I’m still doing my best to keep up my walking habit. It got harder over the winter, but there’s tons of beautiful scenery to enjoy now. There are longer gaps than I’d prefer between my proper long walks, but I also try not to let it turn into a source of guilt, because guilt is like ADHD kryptonite. Even if I forget or get busy for a week, I’ll always come back to it because it’s fun and it makes me feel good. Plus, I find all sorts of cool things to take pictures of.

White mushrooms on a log
Pink bleeding heart flowers in front of a mossy log
A fern frond
Cute yellow wildflowers
A little slug enjoying a nice mossy patch
These might be salmonberry blossoms. I vaguely remember them from last year.

California Nature Walk

I’ve mostly been hanging out with family and getting to know my cousin’s new baby, but my sister and I managed to get in some fun nature time. We found many excellent creatures and plants around a vernal pond we’ve been visiting since we were little.

Pacific treefrog
Newt egg sacks with daphnia clinging on the outside. When those newts hatch, daphnia will be their main food source.
Baby California newt
Baby California newts, and a dragonfly larvae. Dragonfly larvae are one of their main predators at this stage in life.
An adult male California newt (Taricha torosa) in breeding conditon. Males swell up and their skin gets smoother at breeding time.
The same male newt. California newts are extremely poisonous, and that bright orange belly is a warning. Do not handle them if you have any open cuts or scratches, and always wash hands thoroughly before eating after touching one.
California slender salamander (Batrachoseps attenuatus)
Another slender salamander
Turkey tail fungus (probably)
More turkey tails
They’re just really pretty mushrooms. I like them.
Some final turkey tails
Western fence lizard who was not at all intimidated by me or my phone. These lizards cleanse the local ticks of Lyme disease. They’re awesome.
Stink beetle
Fuzzy caterpillar. Not sure what species.
Another fuzzy caterpillar
Pretty orange wildflowers
Wild garlic. I think.
Pretty white wildflowers
Wild garlicky thing with a tiny beetle friend
An oak tree that broke since the last time I hiked here
Eucalyptus trees
Oak trees and the bay area hills

Beach Pictures

I visited discovery park with a friend today and got to enjoy the beautiful beach at low tide. There was a serious shortage of crabs, but a surplus of pretty anemones, so I guess it balanced out.

A pretty pink and yellow anemone on sand
A pinkish purple anemone in very shallow water on sand
A large multi-colored anemone on sand
A closed anemone on sand
A bunch of anemones on rocks
Multi-colored anemone on a rock
Three pinkish purple anemones on sand

I’ve decided to stop sharing my writing day count here. I’m not sure it was helpful in the long term, but it was worth trying. I’m always experimenting with different ways to motivate myself. It keeps things interesting.

Getting in Motion

I’ve been walking a lot more, lately. It seems kinda vital to take advantage of these last bits of nice weather before things get truly wintery and unpleasant. Walking is my favorite form of exercise, and it’s been recommended by a surprising number of successful writers throughout history as a form of meditation when inspiration is lagging. It’s peaceful, the scenery provides stimulation for the imagination, and moving around is generally pretty good for the whole system. I’ve known for a long time that people with ADHD in particular tend to have better focus when they get exercise, but it has to be somewhat consistent to be effective, and consistency is difficult when you’ve got ADHD. Somehow, though, I’ve managed to get something like a routine established.

There’s a beautiful bike path around a lake near my place, and I love going out there, even though my dogs absolutely lose their tiny minds at the sight of all the fat and insolent squirrels who taunt them from the sides of the trail. It takes us a lazy hour and a half to go around the lake, and I don’t usually spend the time specifically thinking about anything in particular. I think it’s been helping with my general mental clarity, which makes it easier to choose to keep going out, and to make choices about what to do with my time without getting overwhelmed. I’ve always unconsciously classified walking in pretty places as “the stuff I do when I should probably be doing the dishes or writing.”

That was not great. Jogging around the neighborhood will never be my thing, even if it might seem more efficient, or like a “better” form of exercise, or whatever other judgement I had in the back of my mind about the whole thing. It’s boring, it hurts, and my dogs would rather tie their leash into a bow around my legs than trot faithfully at my side. It just doesn’t work for me, but walking in a spot with some good trees and water does, and I can do it for a long time before I get bored or tired.

We’re often taught a very adversarial approach to exercising our bodies, but healthy movement really doesn’t have to be any kind of a punishment to be beneficial.

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These shots are all from this evening’s walk. An orange sunset over the lake framed by lacy tree branches.
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A cute red and white spotted mushroom in leaf litter.
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A great blue heron carefully ignoring me and the dogs from the water’s edge.
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Canada geese silhouetted on the lake under an orange sunset.

Writing days this past week: 3

100th Post

Like it says, this is my 100th post on this blog. That simultaneously feels like a really big number and a small one. I’ve been doing this every week for quite a while, so I kinda feel like it should be higher, but 100 weeks is still a significant chunk of time. I wasn’t as regular when I first started out, so it’s actually been much longer than that.

In 2018, I haven’t missed a single week. I’ve been late a few times, but I’ve put out a post every Friday. That’s a huge personal accomplishment for someone who absolutely sucks at consistency. It’s been a struggle, but it’s also been getting a little easier over time. Slower than I’d hope, but it’s still happening.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying the season change very intentionally, because fall used to bum me out pretty hard. It has been surprisingly beautiful in Seattle all week, though. It’s just pleasantly crisp and sunny, not soggy and gray. I’m sure that’ll change soon, but for now I’ve been trying to get outside as much as possible. I even got a few pretty pictures today on my evening walk with the dogs.

Writing days this past week: 1